What's New at BC Colleges: March 10, 2010

Message from Jim Reed - President, BC Colleges

Last week the Provincial Government tabled the 20101/11 provincial budget. Given the economic downturn experienced in 2008-2009, the post-secondary sector was prepared for a tight budget but we continued to believe that the Province would recognize the importance of BC’s colleges in the economic recovery of BC.  While the budget will present some financial challenges for the colleges, overall we were able to preserve the operating base for 2010/2011. In the new budget the operating grant funding levels for BC’s colleges remain the same as provided for in 2009/10.  Given the current economic climate facing the Province and the tough budget decisions taken by Government, we feel that a flat budget for 2010/11 is the best that could be expected and we are pleased that government fulfilled its commitment to protect core programs and services and maintain the operating base. 
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Welcome to another issue of "What's New at BC Colleges".  Below are some recent stories compiled from our member colleges during the past month. If you are interested in receiving the report you can sign-up directly on our website.  We welcome your feedback and would be happy to hear from you.  Please feel free to e-mail us at

Jim Reed
President, BC Colleges

Government of Canada Supports Literacy and Essential Skills Project for Aboriginal People
Market Wire, Monday, Mar 8 2010

Aboriginal workers in British Columbia will benefit from a federally funded project aimed at improving their success in the job market. The Honourable Jim Abbott, Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia, made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. "Our government believes that working with partners to improve literacy and essential skills is the best way to help Canadians get jobs and build better futures," said Mr. Abbott. "In today's economic environment, it is more important than ever that Aboriginal people have the skills they need to participate in the job market."  The Ktunaxa Nation Council will receive $152,095 from the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills for its Essential Skills Assessment Workplace Readiness project. In partnership with the College of the Rockies, the Council will develop and pilot an informal skills assessment tool, designed to assist service providers who work with Aboriginal learners. This project will help Aboriginal adults overcome barriers to learning and move effectively into job training, education and the labour market. It will also build capacity in communities and broaden access to employer resources. Read more.

OK College contributions reap rewards; Educators await details on where dollars to fall
The Daily Courier (Kelowna),Fri Mar 5  2010 

There's good news in the federal budget for post-secondary education, Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton says. The federal government is doubling the amount of money in the college and community innovation program which commercializes the fruits of research, he said. "The most obvious connection, of course, would be with our project in Penticton, the new Centre of Excellence," he said. "We're looking for whatever opportunities present themselves there and elsewhere in the college, too." Read more.

Paralympic primer packs Douglas College
New Westminster News Leader, Thu Mar 4  2010 

If the crowds at Douglas College on Wednesday were any indication, Olympic fever is likely going to carry over to the upcoming Paralympic Games as well. The school's main gym was packed for several hours during an open house hosted by the Therapeutic Recreation program that provided people the opportunity to try out a number of Paralympic sports from both the Summer and Winter Games. Not all sports from the upcoming games were included (it would be awfully hard to simulate alpine skiing or biathlon in a school gymnasium, after all) but it afforded a chance for the able-bodied and the not-so-able-bodied alike to mix it up in such sports as sledge hockey and wheelchair rugby (more commonly known as the less politically correct "murderball"), curling, basketball, and volleyball. This being Canada, the most popular one to give the old college try was sledge hockey. Read more.


Province of British Columbia Media Release, March 2, 2010

Setting the foundation for decades of renewed economic growth, protecting vital services, adding to British Columbia’s competitiveness and building on the tremendous momentum of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are core elements of the 2010 provincial budget tabled in the B.C. Legislature today by Finance Minister Colin Hansen.
“We are enhancing support for B.C.’s families, meeting our financial targets, maintaining our commitments to health and education, and we are on track to return to balanced budgets in 2013,” said Hansen. “Recognizing the many opportunities resulting from the global exposure provided by the Olympic Games, we are also furthering our investments in areas such as clean energy, arts and culture and international commerce while ensuring future job growth across B.C.”  Read more.

NWCC School of Exploration & Mining wins prestigious award for strategic partnerships
Northwest Community College Media Release, March 1, 2010

Northwest Community College (NWCC) School of Exploration & Mining (SEM) has done it again. The school has won its second prestigious award in two months, this time for the close partnerships it has developed and maintains with local community groups, and the resulting impacts they’ve had on the region.In conjunction with the Conference Board of Canada, the International Partnership Network (IPN) has awarded SEM a 2010 Global Best Award in the partnership category Developing Skills of the Future Workforce. SEM competed against entries from across North and South America to take top place for the partnership that founded and operates the school, a partnership between NWCC and Smithers Exploration Group (SEG), a Smithers-based organization dedicated to serving and promoting the mineral industry in Northwest British Columbia.  IPN, a diverse group of international organizations dedicated to supporting and promoting best practice partnerships around the world, awards Global Best Awards in four categories every two years. The awards recognize outstanding and effective joint ventures among business, education and community organizations worldwide. Read more.

UNBC looking to offer science degrees at NWCC campus
The Northern View, Feb 23  2010 

On February 18, the University of Northern British Columbia held a meeting at the college discussing the possibility of UNBC expanding its Science offerings through Northwest Community College. "We are very committed to bring science degrees to the Northwest," said Judith Lapadat, who works with UNBC in Terrace and was one of the key speakers at the meeting. UNBC's expansion to the Northwest would include courses in both Prince Rupert and Terrace. However, both towns would have slightly different courses based on the environment around them. Prince Rupert would offer Biology, whereas Terrace would offer Geography and GIS courses. Both Prince Rupert and Terrace would offer courses in Environmental and Earth Sciences. Read more.

Taking care of business - at college
Globe Advisor, Monday, February 22, 2010

Many people think of commerce programs as the sole domain of universities. They would be wrong.  In Halifax, Shawn Swinkels, 23, has his heart set on being an entrepreneur, running his own marketing company for small business. In Toronto, David Uleryk, 24, sees himself as a business executive, based perhaps in the Caribbean or Europe. In Sudbury, Carly Hughes, 22, is looking forward to a career path that will take her well beyond being a filing clerk or secretary, and in Kelowna, Reid Shillington, 34, wants a career, not just a job.  What ties all four of these young people together is that each decided the building blocks of their future lay in community college business courses. They represent a swelling tide of people - young and not so young - who are enrolling in one-, two- and three-year diploma programs, post-diploma certificate courses and even undergraduate degree courses at colleges across the country.  Read more.

Kelowna woman’s designs scheduled to hit runway for Montreal Fashion Week, February 21, 2010

Kelowna’s Nicole Obidowski has sketched, threaded and stitched her way to one of the most exclusive fashion events in Canada.  Last year she submitted her designs to the Telio Design Competition, as part of her coursework for the fashion design program at Vancouver Community College.  Judges were taken by  the casual sportswear sketches she put forward, and she became one of only 25 Canada-wide who will see her creations — finished with some Telio fabric —presented at a runway show during Montreal Fashion Week March 4.  “I completely never thought I would get chosen as semi-finalist, because the theme this year.  Art-a-porter— Traditional artisan and couture techniques, so think embroidery, beading, needlework — was so outside of my normal style as I have been heading in a more minimal, sportswear-like direction lately,” Obidowski said.  Read more.

Centre of Excellence story goes to a global audience
Okanagan College Media Release, February 19, 2010

The story of Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation is going global.  Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education, and Robert Parlane, a senior project manager with CEI Architecture Planning Interiors, will be in Seoul, South Korea next week to present a paper on the $28-million structure and its innovative design at an international conference focused on sustainable building technologies and higher education. It’s called SB10 SEOUL International Conference on Sustainable Building Asia.   The $28-million Centre, slated for completion in March 2011, is aiming to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge. That Challenge is a product of the International Living Building Institute and its guidelines focus on developing structures that are among the most sustainable possible. Two requirements, for instance, are that the structures have to be net zero energy and water consumers. Among many of its unique features, Penticton’s Centre will have the largest photovoltaic solar array on a non-utility building in Canada. At peak periods of the summer, it will be contributing electricity to the grid. It will also feature interactive instrumentation, so that students and others interested in sustainable buildings can monitor what the building is doing, utility consumption, temperatures, etc.  Read more.

Aboriginal chefs have sights set on Culinary Olympics in Germany
Vancouver Sun, February 18, 2010

Although the B.C. aboriginal culinary team was formed just two years ago, its members have big dreams of competing in the 2012 IKA Culinary Olympics against chefs from around the world.  They’re hoping a special feast they are preparing nightly during the 2010 Olympics will help them achieve their goal since partial proceeds of the venture will help fund their journey to Erfurt, Germany.  Chef and team manager Ben Genaille, of Kanata Cuisine, said not only are members practising their culinary skills and team building, but visitors and locals have an opportunity to enjoy authentic aboriginal cuisine.   The seven-course meal is paired with wine from Nk’Mip Cellars, B.C.’s only aboriginal winery, which is owned and operated by the Osoyoos Band in the Okanagan.  The feast takes place nightly at the Native Education College’s longhouse in Vancouver, where singers entertain visitors with traditional songs and drumming.  “For the next 10 days, we will be raising awareness of aboriginal cuisine and the aboriginal culinary team,” said Genaille, who also teaches aboriginal culinary arts at Vancouver Community College.  Read more.

Selkirk Students Gain Olympic Experience
Selkirk College Media Release, Feb 17, 2010

Chelsea Mathieson Selkirk College students are gaining valuable work experience during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, thanks to opportunities presented through the Co-op Education and Employment Services Department (CEES) at Selkirk College. Chelsea Mathieson and Bernice Purdey of Nelson accessed the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s (VANOC) Sponsored Student Work Term Program through CEES and were hired to perform various job functions during the games.  Read more.

Artist pays tribute to the Olympics
North Island College Media Release, Friday, February 12, 2010

Local artist and North Island College student, Anita Van Holderbeke (AVANH) has created an art show to celebrate the Olympic spirit as a tribute to our Canadian athletes.  As a child, Anita wanted to be an Olympic athlete and 'participated' in the games over the years by watching world athletes on television - the greatest reality show on earth, that unites the world in a performance of global ecellence."Our human technological advances in communication and media as well as the incredible number of individuals that will be tuned in together at one time is truly amazing," she said.  Read more.

Wind Turbine Maintenance Technician program underway
Northern Lights College Media Release, February 10, 2010

The only Wind Turbine Maintenance Technician program offered in British Columbia is underway at Northern Lights College with a full inaugural intake of 16 learners.  The Wind Turbine Technician program is one of the cornerstones of the NLC’s Centre of Excellence for Clean Energy Technologies based at Dawson Creek Campus.  The program commenced on Feb. 1, and it was a busy first week for the learners and instructor Duane Mitchell. Read more.

BC Colleges is a consortium representing BC’s 11 public, community colleges serving almost 200,000 students annually with campuses in close to 70 communities throughout British Columbia. BC’s 11 colleges offer a comprehensive range of programs from university studies and baccalaureate degrees to career, technical and trades education. All 11 of BC’s colleges offer programs that are designed to be accessible, affordable and responsive to the evolving needs of BC communities and industry. For more, visit our website.